Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

For the clowns.  §

I stopped in at the local convenience store for a fountain drink to honor my culture on a Thursday evening. Standing dumbly in front of the fountain for quite a while was a guy in his twenties, staring straight ahead.

In Utah, it is bad manners to get within ten feet of anyone. It is worse manners to step between them and any apparatus or counter that they’re looking at, even if they’re well back from it. You’re expected to stand on the other side of the room, essentially, and wait until they’re done, however long it takes.

Finally, though—after maybe three or four minutes of standing like a fool, waiting—I walked to the machine myself and began to do the business.

From behind me, I heard a voice say in a dull monotone, “I can’t figure out what drink to get. There are too many drinks. There are too many. I can’t figure out which one to get.”

I turned my head to look back at him. He was young and didn’t give the impression of being anything other than of normal intelligence. But he looked genuinely bewildered.

I almost said something, but instead I said nothing, turned back toward the machine, and finished what I was doing. I went and paid and went out the door and he was still standing there.

— § —

I’ve had a packet of Trident gum in my car for some time. It’s actually a one of those built-in Ziploc product bags, resealable until you’re done using it.

It came with something like 100 pieces in it.

Today, after several weeks, I was down to the last two or three pieces, so while stopped at a light, I upended it into the palm of my hand to get the last pieces out. I suppose that was lazy of me.

A little snowstorm of tiny white flecks came pouring out of the bag, all over the car.

I almost swore out loud.

It bugged me all the way through Taekwondo and dropping the kids off to have them everywhere around me. When I finally got back home, I got out the vacuum, first thing, and sucked them all up.

My office, meanwhile, is a mess.

— § —

I am naturally a highly motivated person, in that I have often in life found it difficult if not impossible to sleep, eat, or perform basic tasks if there is something else that I want to be working on at the moment.

I’ve had this experience doing computing and tech projects, while writing books, and while studying as a graduate student.

Right now, however, I struggle to get anything done because I’m not motivated to do it.

I take this to mean that there is nothing in my life right now that interests me, and that I should find an interest.

Problem is, I cannot for the life of me come up with one. I keep reading this books hoping that they’ll tell me how to find one, but they all seeem to have been written by the same person or something.

— § —

I have a pirate VIDA/DICE setup coming from China to do proper diagnostics and upgrades on the car and it’s various modules.

I know that my interest-motivation bone still works because I know that at the moment this thing arrives, I will become embroiled in using it for hours and hours, and won’t even notice if I become hungry or the dogs run out of water or the air conditioning is off and I’m sweating like a pig. I’ll be completely engrossed.

If I have to wait for some reason to get started with it after it arrives, it’ll drive me absolutely nuts, whatever the delay is, until I finally can get started.

— § —

I only have a few friends, but they matter, and I’ve had them for a very, very long time.

I’ve tried out a lot of new friends over the years, but most of them were written out again. I secretly like writing buffoons back out of my life again. It feels like progress. I hope that doesn’t mean that I intentionally pick questionable people as new friends, just so that I can “unfriend” them in the end.

But I wouldn’t put that past any human psychology, including my own.

— § —

I have Google set up to send me alerts when a few people post new things or are posted about. Camille Paglia is one, Penelope Trunk is another, and so on.

There have been no alerts for a few days.

I am jonesing for something new to read.

I used to read DailyKos and The American Conservative a lot for interesting, reasonably well-discussed viewpoints from both sides of the cultural aisle, but both have recently gone downhill.

And things like Foreign Policy and The Economist have become less and less interesting to me as I age. It starts to seem like we basically let a bunch of overeducated, overmotivated twenty- and thirty-somethings play house with the whole planet because they are driven to do so, but nobody with any maturity is driven to stop them, being preoccupied with other things.

So they jet-set around to Davos and Brussels and Washington and Berlin a lot and get into a lot of arguments wearing shiny cufflinks and then write breathlessly about them or get a bunch of stuff written breathlessly about them by similarly young and mismotivated journalists.

But frankly—who cares. Seriously. Nuclear war? Economic collapse? Who cares. (Note statement, rather than question.)

That’s also how I feel about politics right now. I’m not supposed to feel that way, I have a Ph.D. in sociology and have always been politically engaged.

But getting older is reframing things for me. I see the problems of the world less and less in politics terms and maybe even not in public policy terms.

Metaphysics, instead, increasingly seems like the playing field in which I’m interested. Everything else is epiphenomenal, including me, despite what the Very Serious Young Global Professionals take for granted.

What is the nature of being? What is the nature of good? Of evil? What is our purpose? What is our teleological posture? These are the questions that determine everything else.

But nobody is talking about them because in modern liberal societies, it’s impolite to ask where you came from or where you’re going; instead, you’re supposed to ask where your coffee came from and where your dollars are going, and discuss yourself only (though very extensively) in light and airy Facebook memes that concern said use of coffee and dollars.

— § —

The time is out of joint.